Mitt Romney and China

Grind for October 11th
“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”
– Abraham Lincoln


The Headline

Is Mitt Romney eyeing the Oval Office?

The Grind

Among the few Republican lawmakers to criticize President Trump amid Democrats’ impeachment inquiry is Utah Senator Mitt Romney, who sought the presidency in 2008 and 2012.

“When the only American citizen President Trump singles out for China’s investigation is his political opponent in the midst of the Democratic nomination process, it strains credulity to suggest that it is anything other than politically motivated,” tweeted Romney last Friday. “By all appearances, the president’s brazen and unprecedented appeal to China and to Ukraine to investigation Joe Biden is wrong and appalling.”

The Details

Trump shot back with a series of tweets, suggesting Utah voters had “made a big mistake,” accusing Romney of “playing into the hands” of Democrats, and congratulating Democrats for having no “Mitt Romney types.”

“Somebody please wake up Mitt Romney and tell him that my conversation with the Ukrainian President was a congenial and very appropriate one, and my statement on China pertained to corruption, not politics,” tweeted Trump on Sunday. “If Mitt worked this hard on Obama, he could have won. Sadly, he choked!”

Trump included the hashtag “Impeach Mitt Romney,” although the law doesn’t work that way for removing a member of Congress.

This isn’t the first time Romney and Trump have argued about key issues, and some are expecting Romney to step up and lead the Republican opposition during the impeachment inquiry.

The anti-Trump group Defending Democracy Together is already running ads in Utah encouraging Romney to speak up.

“I think Mitt Romney came back to the senate for a reason, and I hope this is the reason,” said Sarah Longwell, the group’s leader. “This is going to be the moment where Mitt Romney will play – I think – the decisive role in what Republicans do going forward.”

The Takeaway

Romney is in a unique position here. He is broadly trusted as a moral leader, but his relationship with Big Corporate is at odds with the populist uprising.

The chances Trump will be impeached are about one in a million; but if it happens, Republicans will need a savior. Romney’s reputation and bank account make him the perfect candidate to step in.

Romney is unlikely to confront Trump should impeachment fail; but if impeachment succeeds, you can bet he won’t pass up the chance to take another shot at the GOP nomination.

It’s About Time

The Headline

US Blacklists Chinese organizations for religious persecution

The Grind

The United States this week added 28 Chinese organizations to the Entity List based on their abuse against Uighur Muslims.

The Entity List blocks the purchase of any American item subject to the Export Administration without a special license from Washington.

Those added to the list have been implicated in “China’s campaign of repression, mass arbitrary detention, and high-technology surveillance against Uighurs, Kazakhs, and other members of Muslim minority groups,” said the Commerce Department.

Chinese tech company Huawei was added to the Entity List in May.

The Details

The decision to blacklist Chinese entities follows rumors of widespread religious persecution in Xinjiang province. Reports suggest China is holding up to one million Uighurs and other religious minorities in concentration camps.

China says the camps are “vocational training centers” designed to give people jobs and prevent terrorism.

“There is no such thing as these so-called ‘human rights issues’ as claimed by the United States,” argues Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang. “These accusations are nothing more than an excuse for the United States to deliberately interfere in China’s internal affairs.”

Blacklisted entities include Xinjiang province’s Public Security Bureau and tech companies Hikvision (one of the largest surveillance equipment manufacturers in the world), Dahua Technology, and Megvii Technology.

These tech companies depend on parts manufactured in the US, thus the trade ban is likely to harm China’s tech ambitions in the short term (particularly in artificial intelligence).

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